Celebrating Ten Years of Service: Volunteer Support

Published 2:12 pm Thursday, April 22, 2021

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By Katherine Council

Phoebe Sumter Medical Center, like many rural healthcare providers, rely on the support of their communities. Monetary donations ensure we have advanced equipment necessary to save lives, meals and cards during COVID keeps spirits high, and volunteers help to keep things operating in different areas of the hospital.

This year Phoebe Sumter Medical Center (PSMC) is celebrating its tenth anniversary for providing healthcare services. In honor of the anniversary, we will be recognizing our growth over the years and remembering all we’ve achieved. And none of that would be possible without the support of our volunteers.

I recently had the honor to virtually interview a few hospital Auxiliary volunteers to learn more about their experience while at the hospital. These ladies, Linda Holloway, Janice Webb, and Joan Newpeck have had the unique experience of working at the hospital’s original location, the temporary facility, and the new location. They were able to tell me about the changes they have seen and what it is like to volunteer at the hospital.

Linda began volunteering at Sumter Regional Hospital/PSMC in May 2010, in the temporary FEMA building that was set up after the hospital was destroyed by the tornado in 2007.  Since then, she has logged approximately 4,000 volunteer hours at the hospital. When we aren’t in the middle of a pandemic and can let the volunteers help us more, you will find Linda at the front hostess desk greeting visitors, handing out guest passes and assisting patients with directions. She also has helped in the gift shop, Outpatient Waiting Area, ICU Waiting Area and in the canteen for the quarterly Blood Drive.  Linda began to volunteer after she retired from public education (35+ impressive years). She was looking for something to do and her good friend was the membership chairman of the Hospital Auxiliary. She was always interested in finding something that would be a service to the community. “I worked my last day at the school and began volunteering at the Hostess desk of the hospital the very next day. I’ve never once regretted that decision,” added Linda.

Janis started volunteering in 2004 after retiring from Sumter County School System as a professional school counselor at Staley Middle School from 1989-2004. Janis volunteered in the gift shop on Tuesday afternoons. She also coordinated the Auxiliary volunteers for blood drives and served as the secretary for the Auxiliary. Janis started volunteering to show support for our hospital. “Volunteering is a way for me to thank all the staff for the care that was always shown to my husband during his hospitalizations,” said Janis.

As for Joan, she began volunteering in the fall of 2010 after witnessing such excellent care for her late husband at an out-of-state hospital.  While Joan normally would assist in the outpatient surgery unit, the front desk or help with scheduling the volunteers, you will now see her in the gift shop on Wednesdays due to COVID-19.

All three ladies noted there have been many changes since the “new” hospital opened and they moved into a much, much larger facility. Changes in the technology have altered their jobs some. Linda said, “Staff, from the CEO and down, has changed, of course, as well as the computer programs and technology used.  However, the changes in location, in size, in personnel, and in technology have not changed the warm, receptive treatment of us volunteers. Training for changes in our positions is always provided. New administrators make a point to get acquainted with the Auxiliary members and our programs, keeping us informed of what’s happening at PSMC.  So changes have seemed minimal and often came with benefits.”

We can all make a difference in someone’s life, and volunteering is one way.  Linda, Janis, and Joan have noticed they not only give their time and service but receive so much from volunteering.  They spoke of their love for giving back and making a difference in our community no matter where they are helping. While at the front hostess desk, a smile or a word of encouragement can make all the difference in making a visitor’s day. They have experienced such joy in helping someone find the “perfect” gift for boosting spirits, while working at the gift shop.  Working in the canteen at the Red Cross Blood Drive gives them a chance to get to know the donors and let them know how important their donation is and how appreciated it is. Lastly, they are so proud of the support the Auxiliary offers the hospital, from helping with some of the items on their “wish” list to making monthly donations to the Oncology and Pharmacy Department. The Auxiliary generously supported the installation of a water fountain in the lobby and an automatic door opener for the Oncology Department as well as donated funds to support the transition of a room in the emergency center to accommodate pediatric patients.

The Phoebe Sumter Medical Center employees are so thankful to have these ladies and all members of the Auxiliary as part of the Phoebe Family. They make such a difference with their helping hands and warm smiles.

I hope you enjoyed learning about these wonderful ladies and maybe they encouraged you to pay it forward. Please let us know if you are interested in making a difference like Linda, Janis, and Joan, whether by volunteering your time or helping us purchase new equipment.

For volunteering opportunities, contact Marcus Johnson, Community Relations Director, at (229) 931-6812 or mjohnson@phoebehealth.com. For donations, contact myself, Katherine Council, Director, Phoebe Sumter Foundation, at (229) 931-1300 or krcouncil@phoebehealth.com.